There’s a lengthy oped piece in Sunday’s Post by Tom DeLay’s former Communications Director John Feehery. The opening blurb doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence: “Tom DeLay had great strengths, and one great weakness – a willingness to let his staff members run amok.”
When I read that I thought it was going to be another version of that silly DeLay whitewash Michael Barone just wrote. But it’s not.
It’s actually well worth your time to read. And though it plays to the good man brought down by bad staffers story line, Feehery only takes that so far. The really bad ones — like Buckham and Rudy and Scanlon — rose to the top because DeLay naturally gravitated toward them and heeded their advice. And he gravitated toward them because … well, because they were bad. And he liked that.
No, Feehery doesn’t use those words. And, yes, I’m making a bit more black and white. But not much. DeLay, Feehery explains, was attracted to these three because of their willingness to cut corners, to ignore limits, to do anything to win.
The overwhelming majority of DeLay’s staffers were professional, honest and working in Congress for the right reasons. But Tom prized the most aggressive staffers and most often heeded their counsel … A former hockey player, Tony Rudy was DeLay’s enforcer; he wasn’t evil, but lacked maturity and would do whatever necessary to protect his patron. Ed Buckham, DeLay’s chief of staff, gatekeeper and minister, constantly pushed DeLay to be more radical in his tactics and spun webs of intrigue we are only now beginning to unravel. And Michael Scanlon, who, in my experience, was a first-class rogue and a master of deception. People like Rudy and Scanlon pleased DeLay because they were always pushing the envelope … I don’t know if Tom always knew what his staff was doing — I know that I didn’t. But I had my suspicions, and now I have seen them borne out.
This one’s worth a read.